Charity Auction Donations

Cheryl Cirelli
Wine gift basket

Are you responsible for soliciting charity auction donations for your organization's next big event? The process may seem overwhelming at first but once you know what is involved and the steps to take to secure items, it can be quite simple and even fun! Soliciting a variety of auction donations is a sure way to draw more people to your event resulting in an increase of funds for your specific cause.

Soliciting Charity Auction Donations

In order to raise the most money at an event, many organizations include silent or live auctions as part of the event's activities. Auctions are a great way to raise funds while providing guests with entertainment and great deals. To make the most out of an auction, try to get items donated from local vendors so there are little out-of-pocket expenses for your organization. Having a committee responsible for this purpose can often ensure the greatest success. The committee can decide the type of items to be used as well as focus on a list of businesses and individuals to target for the donations.

When soliciting for auction items, there are several key points to keep in mind:

  • Always identify yourself and what organization you are soliciting items for when approaching a potential donor.
  • Try to get a mix of unique and interesting items. People will bid on items that they don't commonly find. The more people bidding on items will result in higher prices paid for the items.
  • Finally, it is important to always follow up on any contact you make with businesses. If you are told to check back later or to call in a week to speak to the owner, be sure to do just that. Following up will help establish a relationship with the business and most likely will result in a donation as well as continued support.

Auction Donation Contacts

Identifying local business and individuals is the first step in securing auction donations. Ask board and committee members for assistance in this step since they may have personal contacts in the community. Maybe you know of business that contribute to charity events as well. Even if you don't have firsthand knowledge of companies that are likely to donate, conduct research by trying to find out what local business donate to similar events in your community. Gather all the information you can get then compose a list of contacts. Asking for donations can either be done in writing or through a personal call or visit.

Donation Letters

Many organizations prefer to send out an initial letter to local businesses asking for charity auction donations. The letter is often the first notice a business will get about an upcoming event. It will introduce the organization to the business as well as mention the details of the event as well as why money is being raised. In the letter, it is important to mention what type of item you want the business to donate and the process for doing so. Be sure to include as much information about the event as possible. Details such as the date and location of the event, deadline for donations as well as if your organization is tax-exempt are all important to include. If you plan on following up after they receive the letter, include this information in the document.

Try to get the name of the person to contact before sending out a letter. A generic form letter will most likely be set aside or tossed in the trash. The more personal you make the letter, the better the chance that you will receive a donation. To get the name of the person in charge, you can make a call to the business in question or do a search online and see if the contact person is listed on the business' website.

Finally, be sure that each letter is personally signed by a committee member, the executive director or a member of the board of directors and assign someone to follow up with recipients.

Personal Contacts

If you do not prefer to send out a letter first, consider making a personal visit to a local business or placing a simple phone call. When doing a personal contact, always identify yourself and what organization you are soliciting items for. The business representatives you speak with may need a written donation request, so be prepared to follow up with a formal letter if they would like something in writing.

Utilize your committee members and board members for this process. Ask everyone involved to provide you with any contacts that they may have and feel that would be willing to donate to your event. Board or committee members may be happy to personally contact people they know in order to secure a donation, or smooth the way for you to make contact on your own.

Auction Items To Consider

There are many ways to set-up an auction. Auctions can either be live and include an auctioneer or set-up as a silent auction where items are displayed with bid sheets. Auction items can be single items or done as a package. If you are unsure of the type of items to use at your event, consider trying to secure donations of some of the following popular auction items:

  • Dinner packages
  • Jewelry
  • Gift certificates to local establishments
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Art work

Be sure to utilize any contacts that committee members may have in the community. For example, if you are interested in a dinner packages to use for the auction, ask committee members if they know restaurant owners or staff that may be able to give you something to use for the auction.

Tips for Success

When planning an event and asking for auction donations, entice local businesses by offering to recognize them publicly. This can be done several ways such as placing a sign with the business' name next to the item they donated or simply listing their name in a program book.

After the event, be sure to send out thank you letters to each donor who supported your cause. This gesture will help build a relationship and increase the likelihood of a repeat donation for your next charity event.

Enjoy a Successful Event

Soliciting charity auction donations can take time and energy but is worth the time and effort put forth by those involved and will make a great addition to your event!

Charity Auction Donations